Since I have been home from Liberia I have been re-engineering what my professional life will look like.   I am taking the next two to three months to do a lot of reflecting (praying), reading, training, and planning.   One of the endeavors I have decided to participate in is the John Maxwell Team training.  I have always enjoyed Maxwell’s work because his leadership training is based on foundational principles that are consistent with my Christian worldview.

As I contemplated if I would join the training I listened to one of John Maxwell’s podcast and heard him state that it is important to “add value to the lives of others, to do it well, to do it consistently and to do it with integrity.”   I thought yes, this is a philosophy of leadership training that I want to follow.


The other day I went to the YMCA for my regular workout.   As I sat down to use one of the weight machines, an older gentleman on the machine next to me began a conversation.  Sometimes when I am working out I don’t really want to talk to anyone but just concentrate on what I am doing.  I thought to myself life is about adding value – I need to show a genuine interest in this man and carry on a conversation.  Perhaps he is lonely and needs someone with whom to talk.  So our conversation went something like this:

Older Gentleman:  Three people have been on that machine since I have been sitting here.

Me:   Well, it is part of the circuit that we use when doing weights.

The man began to tell me about his back problems, which really ended up being hip problems.  He had had two hip replacements.

Me:   It makes you thankful for your health doesn’t it, especially now that you are able to stand up and move.

Older Gentleman:  I have never thought about being thankful for my health.

A significant switch in the conversation then occurred.

Older Gentleman:  That is an old crown that was probably put in during the ‘70s.  The guy that put it in is probably dead.

Me:   (What is he talking about?  The crown in my mouth?)  Oh… (hesitant), are you a dentist?

Older Gentleman:  Use to be.  You better watch it when the undertaker buries you he’ll yank it out.

I smiled and walked by him as I made my way to another machine.  Again another switch in the conversation.

Older Gentleman:  Did you go to church Sunday?

Me:   Yes I did, I went to Cornerstone in Brighton.

Older Gentleman:  I hear that is a good church.

He then proceeded to tell me about a number of churches that he had tried and what he didn’t like about them.   I told him that he would have to try Cornerstone; we have great music and preaching. 

I can’t remember exactly how, but the conversation moved on to the fact that I had been traveling back and forth to Liberia.

Older Gentleman:  Well who pays for you to go?

Me:   I do

Older Gentleman:  You must be rich.

Me:  No.

Older Gentleman:  Are you married?  (I nodded yes).  Too bad my plan won’t work…does your husband go along with you?

Me:  He went with me once a year?

Older Gentleman:  Well that cost even more money – he must be rich.  What did he do?

Me:  No he is not rich, we just saved.  He was a detective lieutenant in the Michigan State Police.

Older Gentleman:  He must be in good shape.  (Of course, honey I told him you were.)

Older Gentleman:  Well I wouldn’t have the money to do what you have done; I have spent it all on my three wives who have left me.   To bad you are married, I like someone with spunk.  Do you have a sister?

Me:  No.

Older Gentleman:  Do you have any girl friends?  (Don’t worry girl friends I didn’t sell you out.)

Me (smiling):  I am not for sure that my friends would trust a man who has been married three times.

Older Gentleman:  I don’t want to marry them just someone to date.

Me:  Hmmmmm.

Concluding that the conversation was over, the older gentleman picked-up both of his canes and slowly made his way toward the fitness room exit.


I couldn’t help but laugh as I reflected on exactly how I should be feeling after the conversation that just occurred.  I figured that I had four options:

  1. Depressed that this older gentleman targeted me as viable dating material.
  2. Pleased that he knew a real “quality” woman when he saw one.
  3. Thankful for the tip to get the gold cap on my back molar yanked out before I die and I am sent to the undertaker (I need to leave some type of inheritance for my daughter:-).
  4. Have a good laugh because laughter adds value to anyone’s day.

I opted for “4.”   I am still laughing about the conversation as I write this post.  I hope I added some value to his day, because he certainly did mine.


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What is a Think Through?  it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation.

Today’s Think Through:  What has added value to your life today?